The third hit was the hardest to take.

Battling a deep slump (.106 in his last 22 games and 0-for-19 going into Sunday’s game), Alex Avila had a double and single in the Tigers’ 5-2 victory over the Twins, but had to leave the game when hit on the left forearm by a pitch in the ninth inning.

When asked if he’d be surprised if Avila could catch again soon, manager Jim Leyland said only that “I’d be surprised if he could catch Monday night.”

Even if the third hit — or getting hit — was painful, the first two were welcome.

“To be honest with you, there’s been nothing major wrong with my mechanics,” Avila said. “I’ve just gotten into a bad funk. It’s all about putting consistent at-bats together.

“I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been frustrating. It’s human nature to want to do well at your job, and when you don’t, you get frustrated. But I believe I’ll get out of it.”

No change

Even with Avila struggling at the plate, Leyland has not changed his mind about starting Victor Martinez once in a while behind the plate.

“No, I won’t catch Victor,” he said, “unless it’s some freak situation, such as real late in interleague play (in Miami in the final series of the regular season, for instance).

“I don’t think that would be fair to anybody. I also don’t think it would be fair to Victor to ask him to move back there now — not that I wouldn’t have confidence that he could do a decent job.

“But I think that would ba asking a lot. I want Victor just to be able to concentrate on his hitting. That’s what his strong suit is for us.”